A while back we reported on the news that each and every Switch console has a hidden copy of the NES game Golf inside it, and now we're seeing evidence that would suggest its placement is a tribute to the late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who passed away in 2015.
Switchbrew has found a way of launching the game, which requires the Joy-Cons to be detached and a hand gesture - not entirely dissimilar to Iwata's famous "Direct" signal - to be performed. Doing this successfully plays a short voice sample of Iwata before launching the game.
Before you all go rushing to your consoles to replicate this sequence, it should be noted that the Switch's date must be set to July 11th - the same date on which Iwata passed away. The catch here is that the Switch's time synchronisation is handled server-side, so if you've already connected your console to the internet there is unfortunately no way of fooling it with a bogus date; it apparently needs to be on version 1.0.0, too. Unless you have a factory-sealed console lying around somewhere, it's hard to test this out.
Even so, we've seen people posting videos online showing the unlock process:
So why NES Golf? Well, Iwata programmed this particular game during his time at HAL Laboratory, so it is of particular significance in that respect. According to Justin Epperson (thanks, Eurogamer) - a producer at localisation firm 8-4 - NES Golf could be seen as an "omamori" - a charm that is usually placed at shrines in Japan and offers spiritual protection.
These charms usually remain unopened - as Golf is likely to remain on most Switch consoles as it's seemingly impossible to access unless you're using a brand-new unit. "Nintendo imbedded Iwata’s game to watch over every unit," adds Epperson.
Assuming that this is all true - we've no reason to doubt it, but we haven't been able to test it ourselves - this is an incredible gesture by Nintendo and a lovely way of paying tribute to a man who brought so much joy to players all over the globe, as both a developer and the boss of the world's most famous video game company.